by: Jennifer Poure
This is one of the birthdays that I do not have trouble knowing what to get. DH is pretty straightforward and very easy to shop for. The problem is that DH over the years has acquired not only a wife and kids but expensive taste. Or maybe it was never expensive, I was just always employed. As events turned out that is no longer the case but his birthday arrived as scheduled.
These are the facts that I was facing:
1. I have $39 in my personal account (until unemployment decides to pay me – more on that later).
2. I have $4 in coupons.
3. My mom gave me a gift card from TJ Maxx’s for $26.19 (she could not find an original receipt and opted to take the gift card).
They say that love is in the details and this could not be more true. So I dug deep, deep, deep into that icebox that I call a heart and searched within to create the ultimate shoestring budget gift and came up with the following:
– I made a fancy gourmet dinner with whatever ingredients I had in my refrigerator and pantry. What made it fancy is that the offspring and I dressed up in our Sunday best and had dinner in our dining room (using the wedding China that has been reserved for special occasions but has been collecting dust for
6 7 6 years).
– I made a cake that cost me nothing thanks to coupons (couponersunited.blogspot.com).
– From TJ Maxx’s, I got a Phat Farm shirt and Rocawear jeans for $19.17 (including tax) and placed them in an old Christmas gift box and wrapped the box in Sunday comics (quite festive).
– I had A and B make birthday cards because DH will keep the cards made by his children and lose the one that will cost me $3.99 at Hallmark (why Hallmark when you can Facebook your greetings?).
Needless to say that DH was extremely happy with the outcome and so was I. In the past I would have spend ridiculous amounts of money for gifts to show how much my love is but to coincide with the old cliches of “less is more”, “it’s the thought that counts” and “love is in the details”, I no longer need to result to that. Having your income drastically reduce (to nothing) forces you to be one creative chick.
Deborah Dephict responds:
I really like this post. It embodies the true spirit of AOP – laughing in the face of poverty and accepting that while it is indeed a state it is only a temporary state for you. You don’t even have to change your driver’s license and car registration over. Plus who knew that T.J. Maxx sold Phat Farm? Jennifer Poure – once again making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. (Hey – how about putting in an application at Coach? I hear employees get a 30% discount!)
by: Jennifer Poure
For Christmas, we decided to get Frick and Frack a dog. DH always talked about how he grew up with pets and wanted the kids to have the same experience. I, on the other hand, was hesitant. All the chores and responsibilities that come along with a pet, and also to mention the financial burden. Yes, puppies are cute and kittens are sweet, but the training, the money, the picking up, the money, the cleaning up, the money, the headache, the money, the time, the money – it’s just not cute (shameless plug for our teen website – http://www.itsjustnotcute.com)!
We decide to adopt because
I can not even conceive the notion of paying hundreds of dollars on an animal that I am going to have to pick up their sh*t there are a lot of dogs out there that need a good home.
While DH and the kids took to caring and being responsible for the dog right away. All I thought about was how much this dog is costing this family that is negative one income.
Adoption – $100
New Crate and Bed – 120
First office visit – 34.95
Rabies virus – 15.95
Pet & Client Service – 30
Medical Waste Disposal Fee 5.00
Tapeworm Visit 150.00
Flea medicine/tablet 30.00
Puppy Food – 30.00 (because Purina Puppy Chow is not good enough; NOOOOO, DH has to go and get fancy, schmancy, organic can-only-buy-it-at-Pet Smart puppy food)
This is not a Master Card commercial where in the end I am going to say, “Seeing the joy of my children playing with their new pet – priceless”. The price for the first month of this puppy was over $500.
If you are wondering what is the name of the puppy, everyone in the house calls him Audi; I personally have named him NAT D. Poure ( NOT A TAXABLE DEPENDENT).
Deborah Dephicit responds:
As I have always advised you with your children, no one is too young or too naive to start paying their own way. Get him an agent and book him a Purina commercial and soon you will be turning a doggie profit!
Monday, Monday. I ♥ Mondays! And on this Monday, I would like to point out that it is Columbus Day.
Christopher Columbus, a man who set out to discover new ventures and opportunities. And then we have me, a person who continuously tries to discover how to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. Today I discovered some new things and was amazed at what I learned.
Let me compare the different outcomes in our discoveries.
- Set out to discover a new route to Asia but instead “discovered” America.
- Learned that Indians occupied the land but still claimed that he was there first.
- When he returned back to Europe, he was rewarded with riches and royalty.
- Took a different route driving the offspring to school and discovered that at the first intersection, the two crossing guards drive a BMW and a Mercedes.
- Learned at the next intersection that the other crossing guard drives an Audi.
- Returned to a second stint of unemployment claims and was rewarded with having one week’s pay held because this is the first claim in 2011.
Columbus was credited for discovering America, was given a holiday, and in many cities and towns – a parade in his honor. I have been given a second opportunity to claim unemployment, learned that I did not receive my vacation pay in my last paycheck, and now have the honor of receiving one more paycheck and the privilege of paying more taxes on it.
One more thing that I discovered is that I must put in an application for school crossing guard.
During my tenure of unemployment, there were some months when I had to make a very dreaded phone call. The shame would completely engulf me. I would get anxiety and my hands would shake as I dialed the number. I could already feel the covert judgment and could hear disappointment in their voice. It would always be the same excuse from my part (I’ve been looking for work. I need your help. I really appreciate your help. I’m sorry but believe me I have been applying everywhere.)
I pick up the phone, frog in my throat, hands shaking, sweat beads forming. I dial the number hoping that they don’t pick up. I take a deep breath. It rings and rings and finally an answer.
“T-Mobile Financial Services. This is John. How can I help you?”
(Whimper and a whisper) “Yes, uhm, hi John. I would like to make a payment arrangement.” Guilt wraps itself around me as the same question is always asked.
“Is there a reason why your payment is late?
I answer with my same responses. “I am unemployed. I am looking for work. Can you just read last month’s history?”
A review of my account shows that I have been a loyal customer to them since the 1900s (Thank God, I am monogamous). My extension is granted and my service will not be cut off.
I am ready to thank him and hang up when he has the audacity and frigging cojones to ask me the rudest question ever.
“Before I let you go I would like to let you know that you can add unlimited web service for $15. Shall I go ahead and add that?”
Breathe Jennifer! Remember this conversation is being recorded. You had to confirm your address before they discussed your account. They know where you live.
Needless to say, we don’t have to go into specifics in what I told that chicken-pucker.
Deborah Dephicit responds:
It is always better to be on the giving rather than the receiving end of a dreaded phone call. Good for you for being proactive and dealing with your problem before it became a bigger problem (a disconnect and a $45 reconnection fee). P.S. Say hi to John for me!
In this less than ideal AOP world many of us are faced with a choice: a) Keep crappy, underpaid job and try to scrape by, or b) Go back to school and try to learn something useful this time. I have gone for Option B. I still am scraping by but at least now my days are kind of fun and at least they don’t start until 10 am!
I actually was supposed to begin a graduate program this fall but a last minute I suffered a 6.7 Richter scale AOP financial crisis (just paid off the car and the transmission said, “Thanks for the memories but I gotta retire”). So, for now I will have to wait to start my dual degree in Journalism and Business.
Didn’t want to shut off my brain entirely this semester so for now I’m taking some very useful courses at the local Community College. Really! I don’t know about where you live but a lot of the classes at our community college are very practical ones, geared toward the demographic of, “working adults who want to make more money.” Yallo! I’m in.
Another great thing about community college is that it’s really cheap. In fact I’m barely paying any tuition. (A benefit of an AOP style salary on your tax return – maximum Financial Aid package!). One area where Financial Aid is not covering costs is at the bookstore. My college tuition is Target-worthy but the Bookstore prices are pure Prada.
Naturally being an AOP girl I took my business to the lowest suitable bidder — Barnes and Noble.
I “bought” my books at my local BN but I didn’t do a “take home” purchase. I did a web order through the Customer Service desk so I was able to get the online price :). I paid $26.99 for Book One (savings $ 18.00) and $29.36 for Book Two (savings $20.63). Because I have a Barnes and Noble membership I received free shipping. And, of course, when I say “I” have a B&N membership, I mean my mother has one and I gave them her phone number to look it up! Since I was ahead by so much I also ordered a Pocket Reference book for $8.17 (savings $6.82).
My grand total savings of $45.45. With the money I *didn’t* spend on shipping I bought myself a Venti Caramel Latte at the B&N Cafe (with a 10% members discount, of course!).
And, as for the money I saved on the books? I used $12.16 of it to purchase “Math Workout for the New GRE.” I need to retake the GREs as a matter of personal pride, not necessity. Clearly there’s nothing wrong with my math skills. I’m walking around with four new books in my backpack, a latte in my belly and $33.29 still rattling around in my pocket!*
P.S. Yes, I do realize I’m not dealing with sales tax in my calculations. Did I say I wanted to be an accountant?
by: Jennifer Poure
I LOVE MONDAYS! Always have, always will. Many hate Mondays but I look at Monday as the fresh start of the new week. I don’t dread it because I have to go back to work (won’t be a problem in three weeks) or school. I look at it as an opportunity that great things are going to happen for me this week. I welcome Mondays and believe that the start of a good week begins with a positive outlook on this day of the week.
Nothing excites one more than having Monday off when it falls on a holiday! Holiday or not – I LOVE MONDAYS! And the first Monday in September will always be acknowledged as Labor Day.
Labor Day – “When: Always the first Monday in September
Dedicated in honor of the worker, it is also appropriately called the “workingman’s holiday”. The holiday is dedicated to you in respect and appreciation for the work you do in or outside of the home, union or non-union, big company, small companies, or government. As long as you work somewhere at something, this holiday is for you!”
Deborah Dephicit responds:
And, for those who are out of work, take off Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as well…